Churches in Scotland

Elgin Cathedral: Magnificent Architecture of Medieval Times

As you walk the grounds of the Elgin Cathedral, the first thought that comes to mind is the intricate detail that was achieved over 700 years ago in this enchanted land. Located in the town of Elgin, in the Scottish council area of Moray, this cathedral is a reminder of the diligence of those who built houses of worship without the benefit of modern conveniences.

The first church of Elgin was built sometime in the 1200’s and was believed to have been destroyed by fire. The people of Elgin were not going to let this destruction stop them from worshipping, within this same century they built an even larger church. The new cathedral was a building that was 280 feet long and on the same grounds, an eight-sided chapter house was built, which today still stands. At the time it was the second largest church in Scotland, only St. Andrews was larger.

Over the years, the Elgin Cathedral met with many difficulties. In 1390 The Wolf of Badenoch, who was the king’s son and was excommunicated from the church for infidelities, sent in his sentries to burn the church as an act of revenge. This action frightened the people of Elgin to the point where most of them left the town.

In 1560 the pope, during the time of the Reformation, did not give his blessings to the cathedral and the people in town moved to a new place of worship. The cathedral became close to total abandonment. In 1711, the collapse of the central tower had grave effects on the cathedral and took with it a large part of the nave.

In 1807, a local cobbler was hired to keep watch over the cathedral. His name was John Shanks and he single handedly move the collapsed masonry from the grounds and gave the proper advice to the town’s council to help stop the decay of the buildings on this site.

Today visitors are greeted with one of the most amazing ruins in Scotland. You can walk the grounds and relive times of romantic visions within a place that still houses intricate stonework, tombs of days gone by and a graveyard that holds the memory of the man who help preserve a true marvel of man’s determination of worship. His name is John Shanks and you can visit him when you travel to the beautiful town of Elgin and its cathedral.


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